I'm now 30 years old, and I am still living with my parents. The last job that I had was in 2000. After that things went very far downhill. I've been hospitalized 3 times for episodes of major depression in which I've been virtually non-functional for months on end. I've been on disability since 2002.
The depression caused me to isolate from people to an extreme level. As a result, over the years I have lost my basic human interaction skills, which used to come so easily before. I have basically forgotten how to act around people. It's very painful. If I am put on the spot in a social situation I start to disconnect from myself and become distant from my emotions. My mind goes blank and I don't know what to say. I am always painfully self-conscious now and constantly examining myself from the outside and afraid what other people think of me. It is overwhelming to be out in public places, so now I usually just stay home.
I haven't had a major depression episode since 2005. But now it has turned into a constant low-level feeling of emptiness and apathy that is always in the background. I don't really care about anything and have no ambition to do anything. I sit around all day in my room and go from the computer to the TV to the Xbox 360 to the refrigerator and then to the cellar to work out. My life is meaningless, and I feel like I am wasting it.
The thought keeps nagging at me that I am capable of being a productive member of society, and I can't just stay here for the rest of my life. I have been going to a local community college since 2004 and actually just completed my Associates degree in computer programming (I took 4 years to finish a 2 year program
). I took as many classes as I could online, and for the ones where I had to go in I had to make accommodations with the professors to not be involved in any type of group work. It's a wonder how I did it, at times I felt excruciatingly out of place.
As difficult as I know it will be, I am thinking about starting to look for a job... I have actually racked up some substantial credit card debt and I am in urgent need of some more income. Plus it will be good for me to have something productive to do and get me out of this environment. I figure, if I can write programs in Java and develop PHP web sites, I am sure I am capable of working somewhere. It's the interaction with people that scares me the most, but the alternative is not leaving my room and not having a life.
The thing is, what do I tell a prospective employer about my job history? I never stayed at a job longer than a year, and never left on good terms (because of the depression, I ended up just leaving, some without giving notice). I could not use any job as a reference. And even if I could, that was 9+ years ago. Effectively, I am 30 years old and have no work history. Sad, isn't it?
I've been going to a local mental health clinic for 10 years. The vocational guy I meet with there told me if I am ever ready to apply for a job I have the option of letting them contact the employer and tell them about my situation and the clinic's involvement.
Obviously it would explain why I haven't worked in so long, but I am not sure if that is a good idea. It kind of puts a label on me, which I'm not sure I like. Maybe I should just tell them that I've been dealing with some issues for a number of years but now feel that they are behind me and I am ready to work (it would be a lie of course - they aren't behind me, but the truth isn't likely to help me get a job).
Writing a resume will be another adventure. I have lots of non-work experience (from sitting in my room all day on a computer), and I will have the Associates as soon as they mail me the diploma, but beyond that there will be a lot of white space.
This got longer than I wanted it to (sorry), so I'll stop here. If anyone has any advice or comments on what I've said so far, I'd love to hear them.